Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter Traditions and Holidays Part 11 - Hanukkah


2016 date
Sunset, 24 December to nightfall, 1 January

  • A Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple
  • After the Maccabees successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah miraculously burned for eight days, even though there was only enough oil for one day.
  • Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.
  • The festival is observed by lighting the nine-branched menorah one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. (the middle candle is for lighting the others)
  • Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one's door, or in the window closest to the street.
  • Many families exchange gifts each night, such as books or games and "Hanukkah Gelt" (chocolate coins) is often given to children.
  • foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and jelly doughnuts are eaten to commemorate the importance of oil during the celebration of Hanukkah.
  • The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top that children play with during Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter.
  • After lighting the Hanukkah menorah, it is customary in many homes to play the dreidel game: Each player starts out with 10 or 15 coins (real or of chocolate) and places one marker in the "pot." The first player spins the dreidel, and depending on which side the dreidel falls on, either wins a marker from the pot or gives up part of his stash.
  • The game may last until one person has won everything. Tradition has it that the reason the dreidel game is played is to commemorate a game devised by the Jews to camouflage the fact that they were studying Torah, which was outlawed

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